Why the Economy Doesn’t Matter

Okay – obviously it does. We still have weak economic growth, high unemployment, and a lack of consumer confidence. However, as Keynes pointed out decades ago, and as Paul Krugman recently referenced, due to “use, decay, and obsolescence” economies eventually fix themselves. Basically, as products, machinery, or equipment grows old, breaks down, or becomes obsolete – it needs to be replaced. This means businesses and individuals start buying more products, and the economy returns itself to normal.

I bring this up because so often the question in the Presidential race is who is best suited to fix this economy. Not to say this issue shouldn’t be addressed, but it overshadows so many other issues. Since we are in a recession, we as a country forget there are other problems and issues a President must address.

The United States is facing an education crisis; our standing on the world stage continually dropping. Not to mention there are underfunded and understaffed schools across the country.  Both sides have offered little more than campaign platitudes, and good feeling rhetoric like “Hire more teachers!” In fairness to the President though, he does have his Race to the Top initiative, which focuses on increasing funding for k-12 education. (He did a terrible job communicating details of the plan during the debate) Similarly, Democrats have been trying to increase funding for Pell grants, and are working to  keep interest rates low on student loans. Conversely, the Ryan plan slashes education, including cuts to programs like Head Start and Pell grants. Also, we have seen Republican Governors attempt to balance their budgets by getting rid of teachers and other public employees.

The next President is also likely to make two Supreme Court nominees, which means whomever wins this election, his stance on social issues will have a greater bearing on policy than normal. This is troubling, especially considering we have absolutely no idea what Mitt Romney actually believes on the issue of abortion, and in the debate, Paul Ryan hinted he would be in favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade. Furthermore, as state courts contemplate the issue of gay marriage, it is only a matter of time before the Supreme Court weighs in. Yes, jobs are important, but it is also important that women continue to have the right to make decisions about their body, and it is also important we work toward giving all persons equal rights regardless of sexual orientation.

Finally, as I’ve argued before, the greatest threat to this country is not the debt, it’s not China, and contrary to many Catholic groups, it’s not gay people – it’s climate change. Climate change not only threatens the lives  of people across the globe, but it has and will continue to devastate the world economy. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to fix, and the harder it will be to reverse. Addressing climate change will be the single most difficult task our country has faced. Not because we don’t know how to fix it, or it’s a problem on too big of a scale to solve – it’s because one of the political parties doesn’t even believe it exists. Even though the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in support of climate change, the right insists it must be a left-wing conspiracy.

So as election day nears, remember, this country faces more challenges than just the economy. They are challenges of a type that being a businessman doesn’t automatically qualify you to address. As voters we should elect a President who believes in funding the eduction of future generations, not cutting it in the name of fiscal responsibility. We should elect a President who believes in protecting the rights of women and extending equal rights to all persons, not suppressing individual liberties to cater to the extreme wing of the base. And although both parties have stalled on the issue of climate change, for God’s sake, we should elect a President who sides with the scientists (and the rest of the developed world for that matter) and recognizes the threat is real, not one who believes the entire scientific community is pulling some giant prank.

P.S. I also believe Obama is better suited to fix the economy – See here, here, here, and here


Should We Really Strive for a Religious Nation?

Should we really strive for a religious nation?

Religion causes hate.  Without it we wouldn’t have the Israeli, Palestine conflict, nor would we have the Taliban nor would 9/11 have ever happened.  Throughout history religion has pitted people against one another. Many of America’s conflicts are driven by religion.

Should we really strive for a religious nation?

Without religion there would be no marriage debate.   The LGBT community has been denied basic human rights because religion has deemed it as yucky.   Gays have been cast as outsiders because religions’ holy books, sort-of, some-what vaguely denounce gay marriage. Simplistically put; Gays are less important because religion has decided to make it so.

Should we really strive for a religious nation?

Our religious nation has put women’s health issues secondary to Catholic Church issues. Birth Control, which has been available since the 1950s, is being reconsidered because of our religious nation.  The women’s rights movement is going in reverse because of religion.

Should we really strive for a religious nation?

I am not here to denounce religion.  I am here to denounce those who believe one particular religion is essential to our country and to our government.  Religion does good things for people but it also leads to people holding incredibly strong beliefs, which are fortified by their god.  This is problematic for a society that allows for various faiths.  Religion does have a place in society, but it has no business in government.

Our Constitution believes this as did our founders.

So, should we really strive for a religious nation?

The Absurd Debate Over Birth Control

The outrageousness of this birth control debate being deemed a war on Christianity is just getting annoying. It is so obvious that women should have access to birth control, in part, because it is just basic healthcare, and because women have had access to it for decades now. Why are Republicans determined to rehash this issue as not about women’s right but about religious freedom? How is giving women access to birth control an attack on religious freedom? No one is forcing Christians to use birth control.  As John Stewart put it, people “are confusing a war on religion with not getting everything you want.”

Republicans seem to think the practice of one religion, namely that of Christianity, is of higher importance than basic women’s rights. I ask, “why?” The distinction is between a real attack on women’s rights and a perceived attack on religious freedom.  The former actually takes away a women’s ability to take care of her body and the latter is religious groups trying to ban something they do not like.  So when conservatives argue that requiring businesses to provide women access to birth control is an attack on religion, remember:  the real attack is on women’s rights. It makes no sense for government to cater to one religion, (when there is no national religion) at the expense of women’s rights.

One Nation, Under some Creator, Who has no effect on our lives…

With Santorum now leading in multiple polls and his strong Christian beliefs I feel it is time to dispel one of the common myths that circulates within conservative circles: America was founded on Christian principles.  The fact is the country was not founded on Christian principles, but throughout the twentieth century Christianity has worked its way into our political system.  Some argue our currency says “In God We Trust” and our Pledge says “one nation under God” as proof that Christianity is a staple of our country.  The problem is  “under God” wasn’t added to the Pledge until 1954 and “In God We Trust” wasn’t added to currency until 1957.

Also, the Constitution , whom Republicans claim to strictly adhere to is void of any mention of God, Lord, Creator or Jesus. So the document on which our entire political and legal system is based lacks any reference to Christian principles.  It would seem if a country was truly born from Christian ideals then God would be mentioned somewhere in the country’s most important document.  Besides that, the Treaty of Tripoli, which was ratified by the Senate in 1797 says, “The government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on Christian religion”. Here we have, early in America’s history, Congress explicitly stating Christianity is not a part of the U.S. government.

Many times conservatives refer to the Declaration of Independence, which says, “We are endowed by our Creator” as proof that America is a Christian nation.  The problem is the Declaration of Independence, although an important document in our history has no bearing on our government or our political system.

Finally many of the founders, like Jefferson, were not Christians but Deists. Deism believes there is a creator but he has no affect on people and does not intervene with human affairs.  This is in stark contrast to the Christian God.  So not only do many of our founding documents make no mention of Christianity, many of our founders did not even consider themselves Christians.

The Issue is Women’s Health, Not Religion

Listening to the conservative right, it has become obvious President Obama hates Christianity and wants to force-feed the pill to all women. However, the facts of this issue tell a whole different story.  Birth control is normally provided by almost all health insurance plans and the President just ensured that the right to use birth control is available to all women.  This seemingly innocuous mandate gained controversy because the Christian right sees this as an attack against their religion because it applies to religious affiliated institutions like hospitals and universities.

This is not a crusade against religion though.  First, many of those hospitals and universities receive some form of government funding so they have to play by those rules i.e. separation of church and state.  This is why universities and hospitals cannot turn down people based on religious beliefs.

This is also evident in the fact that many of the employees at those institutions are not Christians.  By repealing this mandate it will penalize women employees who are not Christian but happen to work at a Christian affiliated organization.  Catholics claim this is an attack on their religion but by not allowing women to have access to birth control based on personal religious beliefs Christians are in turn attacking the rights of women.

Providing access to birth control is not the same as forcing employees to use birth control. Christians who work at these institutions can still practice their religious beliefs. Simply giving employees the right to use birth control is not an attack on Christianity.  Nothing about the mandate requires the use of birth control.  Practicing Christians can still practice their religion how they see fit.

I actually attend a Christian affiliated university and plenty of the employees are not Christian. How is it fair to deny women employees, who work at my college, access to birth control based solely on the fact that the school has aligned itself with Christianity?  The university is still a business that receives government funding and special taxes and therefore has the responsibility of providing adequate women’s health coverage to its employees just like at any other business. This is the heart of the issue; the mandate is not an attack on religion it is about securing women’s health.  Regardless of where a woman works she should have the right to proper healthcare. It is not up to the Church to decide the correct way for a woman to live.  The Church can have its beliefs and values but religious institutions that operate as a business must treat its employees like any other secular business does.  This means not denying things like birth control just because it happens to go against the business’s values.